Sunday, June 28, 2009

A vengeful sky

When you came round to seeing it my way, I thought surely I had won.
I carried out my plan, knowing you were covering my back.
Imagine my surprise when thunderheads rolled in, voicing their rage.

Blackbirds lick the sky with ruffled wings, as wind tears through the grass.
They know what is to come, and yet I've foolishly ignored the signs.
It's the price I pay for arrogance, thinking only I know the way.

* * *
These are my first attempts at the Korean poetry form called sijo. Is it any good? Probably not. I'm sure I don't fully understand the rules underlying the form, which involves 3 lines of verse, each split in two by a pause, and an average of 14-16 syllables per line. However, it's always fun to try out new forms, to experiment with them and see what treasures lie within.

Thank you, Joseph, for bringing my attention to the sijo. I lived in Korea for a while, and loved it. All things Korean make me feel a bit nostalgic.

Anyone else want to have a go at the Sijo? Please feel free to use the comments section here to post a link to your poem.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling

I never meant to fall in love;
I kept my heart apart, separate
as I looked to him patiently,
expectantly as any good student
looks upon a teacher.

But then he began to weave his sound,
reaching low, pulling notes
from the dark sacred soul of the earth
herself, pulling high, reaching notes
of the swallows, of the hawks
in their long slow circle
of the hot summer sky.

I never meant to fall in love;
but it came, pulled out
tendril by red-slick tendril,
with the force of the conjurer-surgeon
calling out a swollen appendix without
a single cut
and so I laid it
on the ground at his feet.

Rachel Westfall
June 25, 2009


And again, this was written in conversation with Christopher. It still needs a good title.

Friday, June 26, 2009

All clammed up

I welcomed you warmly
inside here, it’s true, the fire stewing charcoal
and my banged-up old tea-kettle
whistling.

Now here you stand, smiling
that Cheshire-cat grin,
that sunshine fa├žade roping me in
all poetry, stories and a fresh
baguette, still crisp
in its brown paper sack
tucked underneath your arm.

So why is it that
all I can think is dammit,
you’re gonna see
right
through
the thin-woven legends
right through into
this twice-mixed, thrice-baked
garage-sale value priced chaos
that I really am

and so you will go
on your merry way, dropping meaningless
promises to call?

Rachel Westfall
June 23, 2009


In poetic conversation with Christopher.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pile o' Bones

deep barrow yellowheaded impostor
wee lilacs
redwinged beauty
mr. gruff
nested silhouette
professional daycare
for julie
mr. longlegs

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sixteen

Fifteen cats there were, fifteen in all, over the leap-long years.

Fifteen cats, each twined around her legs, one by one as she grew from a soft breasted girl into the bosom of a full-grown woman, as her hair went from long-thick chestnut to winter-black and one day, streaked with grey.

The fifteen all loved her, in their own way.

So what’s with sixteen?

Weren’t fifteen enough; plump ones, skinny ones, alley cats and posh cats; long-furred and short, ragged-eared and tattooed?

What’s with sixteen, and why does he look at her so, out of the corner of his amber-gold eye, as if she might do something unexpected that he wouldn’t want to miss, as if she might have a bit of sweet magic about her tired old bones yet?

What is it about this one that makes her blood want to sing, her bones want to dance the sly old dance of long ago? What is it that makes her skin glow ruddy, her hair shine the shine of a hundred strokes with a bristle-brush, reaching long past her behind once again, like in those early years, trailing down in anticipation of a playful swat from velvet paw?

What is it about sixteen, his rowl jagged, his cowl ragged, his haunches still strong yet hanging just a little bit low?

She sighs, she sits as the hearth burns low

and he climbs onto her lap, tentative, slow

turns around three times, for three’s the charm

and he sits. Rumbles deep

chin on paws, just a twitch

on the soot-smudged tip

of his dear, merry tail, just a twitch

as her hand runs down his knobby old spine

to its very merry end, runs home.

Rachel Westfall
June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Believing

You said they weren't real,
Those winged-scaled-figments of our
hyperactive imaginations

then I saw
a little dragon curled
perfectly, pointed tail swept up
like paisley, scales pressed
firm around the girl's wrist
where it hung on just so,
like any contented pet.

And her eyes shone so bright,
the smile switching on
across her moon-round face
filled with trust as she
stroked that wee lizard's back
and gazed up at me happily
through a delightful swath
of erratic dark hair.

I saw her truth, but you,
you I will never believe again
after this.

Rachel Westfall
June 21, 2009

For Christopher's dragon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Textures

bright tools

earth soleil

patchwork quilt

painted farm

moss tile

nestled homes

history student

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Contagion

Back online; there's free wireless where I am now. :) I'll do the blog rounds shortly; try to catch up by tomorrow. I hope you all are well. Here's an idea I was playing around with a couple of days ago. Small pox? Chicken pox? Bubonic plague? Whatever it is, it certainly isn't swine flu.

Contagion

It starts with an itch.
The tailbone, crawling upwards
nerve by nerve
through the spine, fluid river
into unforgivable
awareness.

Smash it. Watch it grow
shattered, each fragment forming
a new whole, miniature
of the parent
skin buckling, slow, raw
with an unfamiliar landscape.

Contagion creeps low,
over and away with the patience
of busy one-celled lives;
sliding, dividing, retracting;
and is gone.

Rachel Westfall
June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer storm

Tearing humid sky
snake tongues lick through rumbling black
cool rain, sweet relief

(A few minutes online, so why not try a bit of haiku journaling?)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Salt-dreams

Watch the skyline

An old poem.

And something new...

Salt-dreams.

A tank of pirates
armed with primary
colours and foam-balls,

one swashbuckling
striped boy

and four or five
glorious black-haired
girls, swim-suited
and dripping wet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Journey (and, Play It Forward winners anounced)

Tomorrow, we leave town. The kids and I will be on the prairies for two weeks. The kids will get to visit my parents, sister, nephews and niece in Brandon while I take a course in Regina. I'll be online sporadically, and I'll do my best to keep this blog lively. Please forgive me if I don't make it by your blogs as regularly as I'd like. I'll be sure to catch up in July!

Before leaving, I wanted to announce the winners of the play it foward handmade gift exchange. Kara, Kat, and Lirio, please email me with your mailing address. My email address is on my profile. Sometime in July, I'll send you each a homemade gift package. After you get a package from me, please don't forget to play it forward!

Thanks to all of you who put your names forward for this. If you volunteered but you didn't have your name drawn, if you send me your mailing address, I'll put a postcard in the mail for you, just because you might find it entertaining to get mail from another part of the world.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Woodland feast

What is this wild sweet
concoction you have slipped
so slyly into my regular
afternoon tea?

It makes me want to dance
the wild dance of faery,
the slick of forest brine
glossing my skin, the ruddy skin
of a newborn lover.

I love weeds. We eat dandelion greens and lamb's quarters for free all summer, and the rabbits and guinea pigs feast on all the fresh greenery the kids bring in for them.

I have a huge problem with weed killing chemicals. Way back when I was pregnant with my daughter and I was paranoid that she'd have childhood leukemia because she was exposed to so many herbicide sprayed lawns and fields in utero, I had a petition going in Victoria to get the cosmetic use of herbicides banned, as they have been banned in many other communities. I haven't decided yet if I want to make some noise about this here in Whitehorse, too; the city council here doesn't seem very open to environmental concerns. If you are local, you are probably laughing at me right now. Ha! Ha!

Anyway, I did up this little pamphlet with a some information for people about weeds and weed killers. I think the best part about the pamphlet is the dandelion recipes. As soon as the kids got their hands on this pamphlet, we had to try out all the recipes. Our latest concoction is the dandelion syrup, and it's a huge hit. Eventually, I'll get around to indexing the pamphlet from my website, so people can find it, print it off and use it if they want to. But for now, at least I can share it with you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Handmade gifts: p(l)ay it forward

When I stopped by Erin's place one day recently, she was asking for volunteers for a homemade gift exchange. It worked like this: she signed up to play, someone sent her something lovely, and then it was her turn to draw the names of 3 volunteers and send something lovely to each of them.

So I, being very appreciative of homemade goodies, of course responded with a loud and obnoxious "pick me, pick me!" My name was drawn, and what should arrive in the mail yesterday? Some gorgeous homemade photo cards, and a bar of yummy chocolate!! Oh, yeah! Thank you, Erin!

So now it is my turn to draw three names from whoever volunteers to play, and to send each of you something I made. Want to play? Just respond to this post and say, "I'm in." If there are more than 3 volunteers, I'll draw names and announce the winners in a few days.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spotted slug

If you put your finger out
just so
and block his leafy path
her eyes retreat
to their soft ganglion haven
then emerge cautiously,
first left
then right
on slippery stalks

His sticky foot
slides forwards, just enough
to edge her mouth
onto your finger’s
salt-tip

He slides his tongue,
stony surprise,
rough as a cat’s
across your skin, tasting
briny dew
her molluscan kiss
startling out unexpected
giggles of delight

Rachel Westfall
June 11, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

and then...

Rick, Erin, is this the ending you were hoping for? I suppose we each dream up our own endings. Here is one possibility. A conversation can take many turns.

As the sun nudges
the low horizon to the music
of the early dawn

and I slide my cool-slick,
dew-footed presence
alongside your sleep-warmed
self in the sleeping bag

thank you for not asking
me to explain where I've been
all this time.

Cold feet

I knew you were waiting,
waiting for me there
by the fire,
soft-sharp-crackle heat
in the dewy night,
and the fear of that touched me cold.

The blue of this night
I have craved so long;
the deep-blue
moon-blue of the ocean's sky,
the sky of of infinite falling,
of sleep's deepest desires

but now, here we are,
you waiting there by your
twig-fire, bright leaf-fire
as I shiver, only wanting
to go home, the blue
of this moon suddenly
too much for me.

Rachel Westfall
June 9, 2009

And on goes the conversation...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Impermanence

He said he loved her,
carved those words into
the granite wall
so they would stay
until the mountain fell.
One day, he promised,
they would be together
again, and with that thought
cradled against his heart
he carved progress
through the valleys,
into the sides of mountains
blasting-digging-heaping
pounding iron rails
that would connect
north with south,
bankrolling his progress.
These rails, each ravenous mile
was bought in sweat, in mashed thumbs
caught between spike and sledge,
each soul lost by blasting error,
fatigue or bone-weary loneliness.
These rails, he has faith
they will be here forever,
each inch, each line
a measure of the progress
of man, champion over
nature, just like his love,
indelible love.

Rachel Westfall
June 8, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Raspberry surprise

I thought I could tame you,
confine you to the shrubbery
bordered by dim pansies
and prim red petunias.

I dug a perfect hole
in the centre
of the border garden,
tucked your roots in, watered
and tamped you down
firmly with my slick-black boot.

I turned my back for just
a moment, distracted
by a passing mosquito swarm;
then when I looked again,
there you were, sprawled
naked and raw, green anarchy
all over the lawn.

I caught my breath
at the sordid sight,
unexpectedly trapped
in that itchy place between
titillation
and outrage.

What frightened me most of all
is that I liked you
this way
best.

Rachel Westfall
June 4, 2009

Thank you once again, Christopher. If I ever get around to publishing these things, I should call this the Christopher series.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Shaman's song

My love, I said;
this world is fine
thrumming, alive,
but stagnant.
I need a moon to call my blood,


so he sang a fresh
new moon for me;
he sang one into being.

Curved she was,
smooth sliver of a fingernail
at her hesitant beginning,
barely cradling one small corner
of the light-enchanted sky.

His song, it grew from croon to howl
as vines stretched long
and strong, reaching tendril arms
swaying, stirring life-sap
secret night secretions

and that moon-sweet sliver
swelled and grew, coaxed tenderly
in guttural chants and lullabies
older than bedrock and ocean’s swell;
coaxed tenderly
from sliver into orb.

My love, I said;
this world is fine
thrumming, alive.

Blessed be this moon
that calls my blood;
Blessed be this song enchanted.


Rachel Westfall
June 3, 2009

Inspired, yes, by Christopher.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Come walk with me

Aspen sky
Blessed shade Fire totem
Moose meadow
Ghost moon
Bear claws
Winding river
Trapped sun

Squirrel stash
Forbidden forest
Squirrel brain
Berry promise
Striped arachnid
Homing signal
Happy dogs

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I stay

An old school friend just sent me a package of comfrey roots for the garden, and she threw in some wonderful little packets of heirloom seeds, with a few bird feathers for good luck. Summer is suddenly here in all her glory, and the kids are down to their last two weeks of school. The yard is full of nesting birds. We've planted so many little rescue trees from a construction site, my entire body is humming from all the digging and lifting. So I guess you could say life is pretty good.

To top it all off, Christopher keeps handing me delicious poetry-fodder. (Quite unintentionally, of course, but I must give credit where credit is due.) Please stop by and visit his blog, as my poem will make more sense if you do, and his place is wonderful besides. This one seems like a good counterpoint for yesterday's poem.

Why I stay

That you hold on,
this makes it safe for me
to love you, even knowing
one day
I just might
have to wail with the wind
that lonely wind
in a healthy course of mourning
when you reluctantly
take your leave.

Other bright flames
dance in the wind
that self-same wind, mocking;
daring her breath to strike
them down
abruptly,
snuffed.
I guard my heart against
their charm, knowing
they would never stay
for me.

Rachel Westfall
June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why I ran

Here I was, wondering what I'd write about today. Thanks to Christopher, I don't need to wonder any longer. What would I do without Christopher?

Why I ran

Touched, I was, that you followed me
that I mattered enough
to be counted among your lost treasures.

If only you had kept your voice down,
touched me with the softness
of a robin’s wing, careful
not to jar our fragile eggs of blue

I would have fallen, fallen deep

but for the edge of anger, your
voice rising, an axe, gut clenched
like a fist, shattering the day.

Rachel Westfall
June 1, 2009